Veg-cation

Crete – a sweet and warm love affair

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Crete…

It’s hard for me to start a paragraph about the beautiful area of northern Crete… simply because no matter what I say, no matter how many adjectives I use, they will never make justice to how much I love this heavenly place.

It’s truly the most peaceful place on earth… it’s a combination of great history, landscape, weather, food and welcoming people … Greek (I mean “the language” – sounds like music to my ears and I have even attempted learning this ancestral language – not very successfully thou).

Kalimera” that’s what people say when they see you… and just the sound of this word – pronounced “kali mérah” – is inviting enough to make me came back year after year.

But let’s focus on food:

In Elounda, a piscatorial village warmed by the Mediterranean, you’ll struggle to find an exclusively vegan / vegetarian restaurant … but the good thing about Greek cuisine is that most of its traditional dishes are originally plant based … (of course most of them are meat and fish based) but if you focus on the delicious mezzes you’ll certainly have a nutritious, nourishing and especially delicious meal.

I usually say that, for me, starters (or a varied mezze platter ) are enough … I don’t even look at the “mains” section on the menus… Howver, and I must say, that a good vegetable moussaka is definitely worth trying …

My favourite places in Elounda are definitely the following:

Kanali – on the most idyllic location … you can almost feel the splash of water when a boat approaches … the staff is just great – friendly, welcoming (always willing to share the wi-fi password with you) and the food is fresh, homemade, light and so so delicious. Don’t leave this place without trying the hummus and the fava dip.
From here, take some time to explore the surroundings of this beautiful islet bathed by the warm waters of Mirabello bay.

– other unmissable restaurants are Katafygio and Ergospacio (both traditional Greek food in similar settings and on the same sea front promenade – actually they are adjacent to each other). However, the style of the restaurants is quite different:
Katafygio is slightly cheaper, presenting you more rustic dishes in an older restaurant that has live traditional Greek music (and an the amazing zorba fire show dance at the end of the night, join the group if you feel brave enough to take on the challenge of this super speedy dance); and Ergospacio with the most stunning and idyllic setting – nothing beats dinning with your feet in the tranquil and warm waters of the Elounda bay and absurdly dramatic views to the Spinalonga island (*if you go to Crete this is an absolute must place to visit – you can read all about it in one the most recent novels by Victoria Islop called The Island, a novel based on true events lived in that now almost abandoned leper colony ).
The food, the service the views are both identical (and great) in these two places but I must highlight Nikos (at Katafyigio) and Manolis (at Ergospacio) for their brilliant costumer service .. their insight about the area, their friendliness, their precious help…everything was just spot on!

If you go with the traditional vegetable mezze nothing will ever go wrong 🙂

One more thing: you must not leave Crete without trying the traditional local drink – Raki – but be prepared for a burst in your chest … this is not for the light hearted 🙂

Also, make sure to always (and I really mean Always!) bring cash with you. Due to the recession 99% of the places don’t accept card payments.

Other than this just enjoy yourself, the sunshine, the history and charm of the place and Make sure to visit these two fantastic beaches: Kolokytha in Elounda and Golden beach in Cryssi island.

Cryssi island is a natural gem on the southeast point of Europe and there will be no restaurants nor bars serving vegetarian food (so you either take your food or you can buy a Gyros – traditional Greek bread – with only onions and super juicy tomatoes, which to be honest was actually really good!).

Also, don’t leave without visiting the romantic and tranquil village of Plaka, only five minutes away from Elounda. Wonder around and stop at one of the bars with views to the gorgeous Spinalonga Island.

Disconnect.
Enjoy the warmth.
Take time to connect with yourself.


And make the most out of the precious and widely available Vitamin D – for more on this subject, check this article of “how to keep healthy vitamin D levels” with loads of nutritional information and more pictures of wonderful Crete.

If you are almost convinced to go, but still need to find a place to stay, make sure to stay at the beautiful Elounda Ilion hotel, where the staff is super friendly, food is great (they even have Violife “cheese” on the breakfast buffet) and the panoramic views to the Elounda bay are just to die for… Best place guaranteed! 🙂

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